Tag: feral cats

Man Divorces Queen Of All Crazy Cat Ladies

A judge in Singapore has granted a divorce to a 70-year-old man who was driven to desperation by his wife’s obsession with cats.

His wife says she was visited in a dream by her late mother, who told her to be kind to cats, for it was the only way she would “cross into paradise.”

The woman took the dream seriously, feeding strays and taking them home.

“This feline collection created quite a nuisance,” Judge Sheik Mustafa said. “The cats roamed around the home freely. They were not toilet-trained and would urinate and defecate indiscriminately.”

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A photo taken in the home of a 62-year-old woman who had 125 cats and three rabbits in her home. Credit: Montgomery County (Maryland) Animal Control

Things got worse as the fecal output increased in proportion to the number of cats the woman adopted. Neighbors called police to complain about the “stench of cat faeces and urine emanating from the matrimonial home.”

The woman’s husband was running out of patience too: With his bed “constantly defiled” by cat poop, he started sleeping on a mat.

Cops warned the woman to curtail her cat collection, per Singapore’s Today, but she kept collecting them like Pokemon. In 2003 — six years after his wife’s allegedly prophetic dream — the man called police again and begged them to do something, but the cops said it was a domestic dispute and declined to arrest his wife or otherwise interfere beyond giving her another warning.

The final straw? The man was sleeping on his mat one night in 2007 when he woke up soaked to find one of the cats urinating on his face.

He left the couple’s two-story terrace home permanently and moved in with his brother-in-law, who presumably knew his sister had gone off the deep end and was sympathetic to her husband’s plight.

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Animal hoarding is a serious problem, with the cats and dogs often living in horrid conditions. Credit: Animal Planet

The cats weren’t the only issue in the marriage: The husband alleges the wife estranged him from their children, and the wife helped herself to half her husband’s retirement pension, reasoning that she was entitled to it even though they’d been separated for years.

The wife had also been embroiled in a legal battle with a domestic servant. The maid, who helped care for the army of cats, said she wasn’t paid. The woman in turn accused the maid of killing 40 of her cats. The judge sided with the maid.

Neither party was named in legal documents from Singaporean courts. Mustafa issued  his decision on May 21.

After years of fighting the divorce to avoid having to split or sell the home they owned, the wife finally agreed to a divorce settlement, ending their 45-year marriage, with Mustafa ruling that “on a balance of probabilities, the husband has proved his case.”

“I considered the possibility of reconciliation. I find that there is none. The parties’ attitudes are utterly not compromising; the husband is insistent on ending the marriage, and the wife is in vehement refusal to end the marriage,” Mustafa said. “The couple have been consciously estranged from each other for 15 years. That is a long period of time by any measure. There is no ember of love or affection left to rekindle.”

Image credits: [1], [2], [3]

Twitter Malcontents Shame Journal Into Dropping Study About Cats

Last Monday, the academic journal Biological Conservation published a “controversial” study about cats.

It didn’t last a week.

The journal quietly took the paper offline after it was buried in a heap of scorn and hysteria from that fount of good vibes, Twitter.

People whose profiles are appended with tags like “she/her” and “he/him” outlined why the paper is “problematic,” providing an afternoon’s worth of fresh outrage for the grievance enthusiasts.

The study, by a research team from China’s Nanjing University, has two main conclusions: The more women living on a college campus, the more stray and feral cats live there too. Additionally, the team surveyed men and women about their interactions with strays — with responses indicating women are more likely to care for them — and followed a handful of men and women to watch their interactions with cats.

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“Study? Yes, I like to study…how to bend humans to my will so they feed me more delicious yums!”

Is it ground-breaking science? No. Do the results prove women are better caretakers of cats than men? Nope. Did the authors perhaps overextend themselves by mixing up correlation and causation? Probably.

But it’s still research, and studies should not be buried or banished from peer-reviewed journals because a handful of malcontents on Twitter cry sexism. Some aspects of the paper, like the small sample of observed interactions, are thin. But the authors did look at 30 universities, a healthy sample size as far as institutions go.

If follow-up studies indicate that women are indeed more likely to care for cats, so what?

Is reality sexist? Do we need to protect people from even the most mildly controversial things?

As a man who loves cats, I don’t doubt that most caretakers are women. I see the anecdotal proof among the ranks of rescue volunteers. I see it in my readership here — aside from the Extraordinary League of Cat Dads, some 85 percent of this blog’s readers are female.

And that’s perfectly fine!

I would like to see more men warm to the idea of adopting and caring for cats, but the fact that women in general seem to have more empathy for them isn’t sexist. It doesn’t mean every woman loves cats any more than it means all men don’t.

Very Sad Buddy
Pain In The Bud’s readership is overwhelmingly female, but most of our traffic isn’t from women — it’s from female cats who find Buddy devilishly handsome!

Some readers know I have a background in journalism and spent almost 15 years of my career as a reporter and editor. One thing that appalls me as a journalist is the routine practice of quoting tweets in lieu of speaking to people face to face or picking up the phone and asking questions.

Platforms like Twitter thrive on negativity. Whether 140 or 280 characters, Twitter’s bite-size messages may be good for people who have the attention span of gnats, but they don’t exactly foster productive or nuanced discussion. Perhaps most important of all, people are more likely to say negative things online than they are in a human-to-human conversation, and too often handfuls of loudly-complaining people are mistaken for a majority.

Studies show negative tweets are far more likely to spread than positive or neutral messages, which skews public perception. They also show Twitter opinions are not representative of the general public, in part because most of Twitter’s power users come from similar backgrounds and share world views.

To put it bluntly, Twitter is full of roving bands of grievance artists constantly on the lookout for new things to shit on, and we should stop assigning so much importance to what we think are the prevailing sentiments on social media platforms.

Academic journals are peer-reviewed. Taking the vetting responsibility away from experts and giving it to a few unhappy people on social media is not a smart way to present research.

The study authors’ peers will poke holes in their work if the holes indeed exist, and that’s part of what peer review is for. Not to bury research, but to encourage scientists to rethink it, refine it and try again.

Why We Should Lie To Our Cats

Sometimes you’ve gotta fib to protect the ones you love, which is how I found myself lying to Buddy the first time he wanted to go outside and ineptly chase hunt birds.

“I’m sorry, Bud, I can’t let you do that,” I said, doing my best to sound serious and authoritative.

“Why not?” Buddy asked, pawing at the door impatiently.

“Because it isn’t safe.”

Buddy was exasperated. “I’m 10 months old! I can take care of myself!”

“You don’t understand. It’s not for your protection.”

I lowered my voice conspiratorially and nodded toward the birds outside. “It’s for them. Mice too. Squirrels. Even coyotes.”

Comprehension dawned on the little guy’s face.

“To protect them from me?”

“Precisely,” I said gravely. “It wouldn’t be fair, unleashing a beast of your size and power on those poor unsuspecting creatures. It’d be like that scene in Jurassic Park when they lowered a cow into the velociraptor cage.”

Buddy nodded.

Jurassic Park: Raptor feeding time

“That makes sense.” He eased onto his hind legs and raised his front left paw, flexing. “I mean, I am really ripped. These guns must be intimidating.”

“They most certainly are,” I agreed. “So ripped! So you can understand why I can’t let you out.”

“Illegal, you say? Like actually illegal?”

“A $500 fine if you even step out the front door.”

“Damn.”

After that he didn’t ask to go outside anymore and was satisfied with telling people that the local Council of Dangerous and Awesome Animals had specifically forbidden Buddy the Beast from stalking the neighborhood unless chaperoned by a human with his huge muscles restrained in a harness.

Ed Sheeran’s cat: A preventable tragedy

I recalled this totally accurate and real conversation after reading news that musician Ed Sheeran’s cat, Graham, has died. I clicked on the story expecting to read about a loyal cat who’d stuck with Sheeran over the better part of two decades before succumbing to old age.

That’s not how Graham died.

Sheeran’s five-year-old cat had his life cut short when he was hit by a car on July 31.

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Graham, Ed Sheeran’s cat, as a kitten. He’s pictured sitting on a Les Paul guitar.

Allowing cats to roam free is the norm in the UK, even in busy neighborhoods. Cats are killed in traffic — or meet other unfortunate ends — regularly. Even a rampage by an alleged serial murderer of cats, who was said to kill more than 300, didn’t dissuade them from keeping their cats safely indoors, nor did the subsequent (pardon) copy-cats.

The usual excuses paint cats as one step removed from wild animals, creatures who range several miles in their “natural” states as outdoor kitties.

The problem is, that’s not true.

Domestic cats don’t belong in the wild

Cats are domesticated animals. They’ve evolved over 10,000 years from African and Eurasian wildcats, to the human-friendly mousers who protected grain stores, and finally to the companion animals we all know and love.

They are second only to dogs, who were domesticated 30,000 years ago, as animals who are uniquely attuned to human presence, able to read our expressions, detect our moods from our pheromones and parse the subtleties in our vocalizations.

Cats belong with humans. They have no “natural habitat.” As domesticates who are genetically distinct from their wildcat ancestors, there’s no place in nature for them.

In other words, cats belong in human homes, benefiting from human companionship, protection and care.

They’re not as fast, agile or nimble as their wild cousins, and while some can adjust to rough living, most don’t: The lifespan of a feral cat is a pitiful two to five years compared to the 16 years or so an average, well-cared-for indoor cat can live. For feral cats eking out an existence on their own, as opposed to living in a colony, the average lifespan is less than two years.

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Window perches allow cats prime views of the outdoors without exposing them to danger.

It’s our responsibility to protect our cats

The point is that we’re not doing cats any favors by letting them roam outdoors unsupervised. In addition to being ill-equipped to deal with nature and predators, they’re also defenseless against maladjusted and hostile humans who do things like intentionally poison flower beds. They’re particularly vulnerable to vehicle traffic. They’re easy meals for large birds of prey, wild canids and other mid-sized animals.

So what’s the solution? Simple: Be a good caretaker.

An indoor life shouldn’t be boring. It’s our responsibility as caretakers to provide our cats with attention, affection, toys and stimulation.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, cats aren’t antisocial animals. They want to play, to interact with people, to simulate hunts with wand toys and laser pointers. They feel safe snoozing and purring in human laps. That’s not just the opinion of cat lovers, it’s backed up by solid research showing cats value human companionship.

A happy indoor life

If we give them the attention we’re supposed to, there’s no reason why our cats should be bored indoors. And an indoor life doesn’t have to be completely devoid of nature. That’s why there are customized cat perches, catios and harnesses, allowing domestic cats to watch and enjoy the outdoors without exposing them to the many dangers outside.

The Grahams of the world shouldn’t die early because of our misguided belief that cats need to roam like tigers. Keep your buddy indoors, give him the attention he needs, and he’ll have a long and happy life.